Friday, November 16, 2012

Widening sphere

8:12 p.m. Today's project was to spend the late afternoon with a lovely family whose daughter I tutor in Advanced Placement Spanish. The family is from India, the mother a doctor and the father an engineer. My student developed a desire to learn Spanish, and being the same kind of overachiever as I was in high school, and planning on being a doctor herself, decided to skip to AP Spanish 3 as a sophomore. There is no Spanish-speaking background in their home, so, the doctor told a mutual acquaintance that she was seeking a person who speaks, reads and writes academic Spanish, and I was hired. This is , as I've pointed out before, an example of God's sense of humor, selecting a person who hadn't spoken Spanish regularly for many years!

There are other two funny aspects of this situation: I had been contacted over a year ago, but the doctor and I never connected. That made for one more year of rustiness in my speaking the language.  Also, my student and I both attend(ed) Redlands High school, just 43 years apart! This afternoon, for fun, I showed them the 1969 "Makio," the RHS yearbook of my senior year,so they could see an exuberant and skinny Dana Gray. The mom remarked, "1969--that's the year I was born!" Ah well, just glad I can still make a contribution at my age... Proverbs 16:31 says,

The hoary [silver-haired] head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.

And if I don't make it to the hairdresser Monday, there will be a lot of silver hairs showing!

When I first came to the home, I noticed many Hindu pictures, statuettes, and worship items. As my student and I would read and discuss Spanish passages about the cultures and religions of the Hispanic countries of the world, we discussed her background and beliefs, and I shared mine, including my study of the Bible and the book I'd written, Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, published last year. She excitedly told her mother about this when she came over to inquire about her daughter's progress and to give me a check for the tutoring session. The doctor was very pleased to hear about this, and impressed that I'm a published author. That was not my intention, but academics like academic achievement in any field of study, the Bible being no exception. It served as an opening for sharing Christ.  But my witness will only ring true as the doctor observes my professionalism, integrity, and her daughter's accomplishments.

The young lady has improved wonderfully in her speaking the language now that school has started and she is practicing more. Her teacher asked, "What's your secret weapon? You've really improved!" God gets all the glory as far as I'm concerned. Whose idea was this whole tutoring thing anyway? Certainly not mine! I wouldn't have had the nerve to put myself forward for the job, nor would have felt very qualified, other than on paper. Don't you just love God's ways? They are truly "past finding out" (Romans11:33).

A few weeks ago, I commented to the mother that her daughter was going pretty much past where I could teach her, but the doctor would have none of that! She said, "This is where she gets to practice the conversation, have discussion one-on-one. Please continue until after the AP exam." She walked me out to my car and confided that the teacher actually disparaged, because of their ethnicity and her daughter's brilliance, her taking Spanish at all! I comforted and encouraged the mom that, as a doctor here in California, speaking Spanish would be an advantage, very desirable. Inside, I was boiling at such ignorance at my alma mater--and such racism.

I've been disappointed to hear it taught that intellectual attainments, degrees and titles are not to be admired or sought after by Christians, because we are all equals. Of course "we are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). But just as a woman's kitchen prowess can open a door to a job in a bakery where she can witness for Christ, an advanced professional degree can open a door of testimony in a different setting, to a different kind of person. Or an officeholder who serves or has served honorably retains respect from those whose jobs were affected by their policies, as well as from the public at large. That's what I call a wide sphere of influence! Only let that influence be used to spread the fragrance of Christ.

Believers owe an incredible debt of gratitude to the high scholarship of the Apostle Paul, the translators of the King James Bible, commentator Matthew Henry, C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Dr. James Dobson, Jay Sekulow--need I say more?  God calls, educates and prepares certain people to "stand before kings" (Proverbs 22:29).

Each one of us has been created, educated formally or informally, and as believers, gifted for unique service in realms designed specifically for us, chosen from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) by God. Every step of our lives, whether in or out of His perfect will at various times, has led us and prepared us for  the ministries we have today or will have in the future.

May we lift up Jesus as we serve others in His name and at His bidding!

1 comment:

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